Nuclear power safe?

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: Nuclear power safe?

Postby [XAP]Bob » 23 Nov 2017, 8:51am

francovendee wrote:Safe? Maybe but would you choose to live near one if you have a choice?

I'd rather have a nuclear power plant at the end of the street than a coal fired plant.

If we design reactors as pure power generation, rather than as nuclear weapons factories, then many failure modes cease to exist.

The biggest issue has always been a 'meltdown' where the core melts and is no longer able to be moderated effectively.
Various current designs have the fuel as a liquid to start with - so it can't melt... Additionally these systems have 'drains' which have a salt 'plug' in them - if the core temperature starts climbing too high then the salt plug melts and the core drains into a concrete 'tray' where it's surface area is such that it instantly becomes subcritical.
That's passive safety - there is no active component, it's just physics...
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

PDQ Mobile
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Re: Nuclear power safe?

Postby PDQ Mobile » 23 Nov 2017, 9:02am

[quote="pwa"][quote="francovendee"]Safe? Maybe but would you choose to live near one if you have a choice?[/quote]

I live near the South Wales coast. A couple of miles east of here on our B road I often catch a glimpse of Hinkley Point. Not exactly next door but not far away. And I welcome it.[/quote]

Just out of interest how would the proposed barrage or the tidal project sit in comparison.
Couple of wind farms thrown in?

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: Nuclear power safe?

Postby [XAP]Bob » 23 Nov 2017, 9:13am

old_windbag wrote:I think the problem from my perspective in chernobyl for example is not the dose received standing around which may be very low but rather ingestion of strongly ionizing contaminants from crops and meat that has fed from the land and watercourses. We have built in DNA repair to a degree and alpha, beta particle emitters will not penetrate far, if at all, externally, but if we ingested alpha emitting material then we could be creating unecessary problems down the line. Its the material that has found its way into the soil and beyond that is critical. The half life being an important factor.


We aren't eating the food growing in that area, but yes - ingestion is more risky than other forms of exposure. We do, of course, eat and breath radioactive substances all our lives however...

The a-bomb tests the americans did in nevada and elsewhere weren't without incident. Why should anyone have an increased risk of cancer through nuclear errors whether weapons or energy, we aren't happy having it from other sources and are always striving to reduce damage to health....... though many may ignore advice given.

If you want to reduce damage to health then build as much nuclear power generation as you can, and shut down the coal industry.

I don't have a fear of radiation as described in the name changes to equipment as I know it can be used for good. But I wouldn't choose to drink a radium tonic as was often promoted in the early days of the discovery. There are many walking the planet into their 70's/80's who were exposed to quite high doses of radiation but their stories aren't of a life without serious health issues that they need not have incurred.


I wouldn't want to drink a radium tonic either - but then we have a better understanding of radiation now than we did then (when it was absolutely brand new to science)

Possibly - it is very difficult to directly attribute health issues to low levels of radiation exposure - simply because the effects aren't actually predictable on an individual level (at low doses). I'll wager that more health issues have been caused, and lives lost, because of the increase in use of coal power than anything that the nuclear industry has ever done.
And that's ignoring the medicinal treatments which are another byproduct of many reactors... Net benefit is possibly coming into play once you look at various treatments possible as a result of the nuclear power industry.
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

pwa
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Re: Nuclear power safe?

Postby pwa » 23 Nov 2017, 9:15am

As far as I am aware the Severn barrage is dead in the water (spot the pun) due to immense cost. Which is a relief to a friend of mine who lives near Lavernock Point and faced a decade of hell if the construction had gone ahead. That would have been upriver of Hinkley.

Inland we have a huge number of wind turbines. Enormous things. And at Margam, near the steelworks, a new biomass burning power station is nearing completion.

The Swansea Bay lagoon thing is not getting any support from the Government so looks a non-starter.

And our local coal burning power station is now operating at half capacity and is in its last few years of use.

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: Nuclear power safe?

Postby [XAP]Bob » 23 Nov 2017, 9:17am

PDQ Mobile wrote:
pwa wrote:
francovendee wrote:Safe? Maybe but would you choose to live near one if you have a choice?


I live near the South Wales coast. A couple of miles east of here on our B road I often catch a glimpse of Hinkley Point. Not exactly next door but not far away. And I welcome it.


Just out of interest how would the proposed barrage or the tidal project sit in comparison.
Couple of wind farms thrown in?



The barrage would be a massive ecological change to a very wide area... the deaths from windfarms outweigh the deaths from nuclear power generation...

Code: Select all

Energy Source              Death Rate (deaths per TWh) CORRECTED

Coal (elect, heat,cook –world avg) 100 (26% of world energy, 50% of electricity)
Coal electricity – world avg        60 (26% of world energy, 50% of electricity)
Coal (elect,heat,cook)– China      170
Coal electricity-  China            90
Coal – USA                          15
Oil                                 36  (36% of world energy)
Natural Gas                          4  (21% of world energy)
Biofuel/Biomass                     12
Peat                                12
Solar (rooftop)                      0.44 (0.2% of world energy for all solar)
Wind                                 0.15 (1.6% of world energy)
Hydro                                0.10 (europe death rate, 2.2% of world energy)
Hydro - world including Banqiao)     1.4 (about 2500 TWh/yr and 171,000 Banqiao dead)
Nuclear                              0.04 (5.9% of world energy)



OTOH I don't have an issue with either solar or wind, but they both need backups - Tesla are making grid scale battery systems a reality - but actually that cuts both ways - it can be used to smooth load - or to smooth demand... So a baseload generator (like a nuclear plant) can be used with a battery based 'load smoothing' to supply those peaks when everyone turns on the kettle...



There is a significant argument to suggest that the nuclear industry is over regulated, and the current safety requirements should be relaxed...
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

francovendee
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Re: Nuclear power safe?

Postby francovendee » 23 Nov 2017, 11:32am

[XAP]Bob wrote:
francovendee wrote:Safe? Maybe but would you choose to live near one if you have a choice?

I'd rather have a nuclear power plant at the end of the street than a coal fired plant.

If we design reactors as pure power generation, rather than as nuclear weapons factories, then many failure modes cease to exist.

The biggest issue has always been a 'meltdown' where the core melts and is no longer able to be moderated effectively.
Various current designs have the fuel as a liquid to start with - so it can't melt... Additionally these systems have 'drains' which have a salt 'plug' in them - if the core temperature starts climbing too high then the salt plug melts and the core drains into a concrete 'tray' where it's surface area is such that it instantly becomes subcritical.
That's passive safety - there is no active component, it's just physics...

I agree, coal fired power generation is dirty so I'd most likely prefer to be near the nuclear power station but would prefer to be next to a gas powered plant than nuclear. No matter how many safeguards in the the design, construction and operation you build in, accidents do happen and the resultant effects can be very widespread. Germany, who I regard as very good engineers, have chosen to not to have nuclear. Do they know something we don't or are they bowing to public sentiment? Maybe the huge problems of dealing with the waste has influenced their decision

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Cunobelin
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Re: Nuclear power safe?

Postby Cunobelin » 23 Nov 2017, 1:55pm

[XAP]Bob wrote:[

We aren't eating the food growing in that area, but yes - ingestion is more risky than other forms of exposure. We do, of course, eat and breath radioactive substances all our lives however...



The most harmful radiation is the Alpha and Beta particles as they have a "solid" form. They have a short path and impart all the energy in that path. Hence the dose is high.

Skin will absorb these easily

However once you get these sources into the body, the fragile tissues are affected directly without the filter the skin provides


Then there are the radioactive foodstuffs.... Bananas in particular have potassium in a decaying form. There was a system called the"Banana Equivalent Dose"where the radiation dose was counted by equating to the number of bananas eaten!

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: Nuclear power safe?

Postby [XAP]Bob » 23 Nov 2017, 2:03pm

francovendee wrote:I agree, coal fired power generation is dirty so I'd most likely prefer to be near the nuclear power station but would prefer to be next to a gas powered plant than nuclear. No matter how many safeguards in the the design, construction and operation you build in, accidents do happen and the resultant effects can be very widespread. Germany, who I regard as very good engineers, have chosen to not to have nuclear. Do they know something we don't or are they bowing to public sentiment? Maybe the huge problems of dealing with the waste has influenced their decision


They're bowing to public sentiment.

Gas and coal power stations both suffer explosive failure modes - which modern nukes don't have.
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

PaulB
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Re: Nuclear power safe?

Postby PaulB » 23 Nov 2017, 2:14pm

A few years ago I had a tour around Sellafield in Cumbria. A group of us stood on top of the reactor (it was beneath several feet of concrete!) and there was no radiation measured. Later the chap showing us around asked how many of us had luminous watches and got us together with a Geiger counter. The radiation it registered from our watches would have been enough to set off an alarm. That is how closely the sites are monitored. Even the slightest increase in background radiation sets alarm bells ringing despite the amount being well below 'danger' level.

There is the potential for a disaster and the specter of the mushroom cloud sits large in people's minds. We live in a time where all risk must be removed (hence the hel*et and high-vis lobby) and it's the perception of danger that fills the news and forms opinion rather than the facts.

Psamathe
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Re: Nuclear power safe?

Postby Psamathe » 23 Nov 2017, 4:50pm

For me the question is not about safety alone but "Do We Need Nuclear Power". Or maybe "Do We Need To Build New Nuclear Power Stations?".

Seems there is a degree of risk (what if the Twin Towers attack had been to a nuclear power station?). But there is also the cost considerations - they are expensive (as Hinckley has demonstrated) and the consumer ends-up paying. Seems renewables are now cheaper. Storage technology is available and fast improving and I suspect that by the time Hinckley comes online, storage technology will be somewhat more widespread.

The nature of nuclear means that complementary generation is also necessary so it fulfils a role but is not the answer. Can we or do we need to pay the high costs for nuclear when there are cheaper alternatives and increasingly cheaper alternatives that do not suffer the "cloudy still day" criticism.

And given the high cost of nuclear, why did we e.g. abandon carbon capture development.
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/nov/22/hinkley-point-c-subsidy-consumers-mps-contract wrote:Government accused of failing billpayers by agreeing to fixed price for 35-year contract that will cost £30bn

MPs have accused the government of failing to protect consumers over the price it has promised to pay for power from the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant.

The Commons public accounts committee said the subsidy contract for Hinkley Point C, agreed in 2016 after years of delays, would hit poorest households hardest.


I have the impression UK pursuit of nuclear is to a significant part a legacy dream of Cameron/Osborne.

Meanwhile:
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/nov/22/hinkley-point-c-subsidy-consumers-mps-contract wrote:No subsidies for green power projects before 2025, says UK Treasury
Government accused of ‘turning their back on renewables’ after saying there will be no more money for new low-carbon levies


Ian

Stradageek
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Re: Nuclear power safe?

Postby Stradageek » 23 Nov 2017, 6:38pm

I'd recommend 'FUKUSHIMA The Death Knell for Nuclear Energy' by Sean McDonagh. I'm a component reliability engineer and a lot of what he discusses resonates with me, I've serious doubts about building anything that runs that hot and fast that can be reliable and safe for decades.

I'm firmly in favour of going all out for renewables - especially as this would require us to cut national energy consumption to 10% of what we use now, bye bye cars, hello local communities and bicycles!

I'm up for it :D

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Cunobelin
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Re: Nuclear power safe?

Postby Cunobelin » 23 Nov 2017, 7:58pm

There is a second and serious issue with this and that is the Medical Reactors

There are a range of diagnostic scans and therapies that depend upon really Radiopharmaceuticals produced by a limited number of reactors

These are all old and failing.

Each year we face a crisis as the availability declines and the ability to diagnose a range of diseases and treat cancers is compromised

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Re: Nuclear power safe?

Postby old_windbag » 23 Nov 2017, 8:20pm

[XAP]Bob wrote:We aren't eating the food growing in that area


Yes but the point I was getting at was the contaminants cover the land and permeate over time deeper into the soil then into watercourses/aquifers. For people living in the area such as chernobyl they would have their local food sourced from that contaminated soil. The alpha emmiting waste being strongly ionizing isn't something you'd want to be eating as part of local vegetables/crops/meat. It must have been awful for those in the chernobyl area to have to face the aftermath.

We do live side by side with "natural" radiation plus any other airborne remnants of our nuclear age( tests etc ). But when a chernobyl happens it's main damage is to a local radius covering the land to an unnatural level. After chernobyl we had the ban on lamb from wales and lakeland iirc from concerns about its consumption due to the rain from the plume that blew across. But even where natural radiation occurs there are areas where health concerns are raised due to more intense activity such as some cornish homes having Radon detectors. Talking of detectors, we have americurium in some of our smoke detectors.

I would like to see the day that we crack fusion technology but I'd be surprised if it happens in my lifetime, I went to a lecture about JET in around 1980 where the timescales mooted have well past and keep moving forward.

The next issue we have related to the food chain is the influx of plastic nano fragments into the system and the effects on health they may have. A few years ago we had a dioxin scandal in this area, another byproduct of our modern world.

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Re: Nuclear power safe?

Postby brynpoeth » 23 Nov 2017, 8:27pm

francovendee wrote:
[XAP]Bob wrote:
francovendee wrote:Safe? Maybe but would you choose to live near one if you have a choice?

I'd rather have a nuclear power plant at the end of the street than a coal fired plant.

If we design reactors as pure power generation, rather than as nuclear weapons factories, then many failure modes cease to exist.

The biggest issue has always been a 'meltdown' where the core melts and is no longer able to be moderated effectively.
Various current designs have the fuel as a liquid to start with - so it can't melt... Additionally these systems have 'drains' which have a salt 'plug' in them - if the core temperature starts climbing too high then the salt plug melts and the core drains into a concrete 'tray' where it's surface area is such that it instantly becomes subcritical.
That's passive safety - there is no active component, it's just physics...

I agree, coal fired power generation is dirty so I'd most likely prefer to be near the nuclear power station but would prefer to be next to a gas powered plant than nuclear. No matter how many safeguards in the the design, construction and operation you build in, accidents do happen and the resultant effects can be very widespread. Germany, who I regard as very good engineers, have chosen to not to have nuclear. Do they know something we don't or are they bowing to public sentiment? Maybe the huge problems of dealing with the waste has influenced their decision


The green party pressed for the end of nuclear in Germany
Storing the waste for the next few thousand years was the trigger, it is kept at Gorleben in Wendland, a very rural area by the Elbe
There have been huge protests there, many thousands protested, it united local farmers and alternative-minded incomers, thousands of cops from all over came to keep order
Some parallels with the miners strike in the 1980s?

The future is conservation and diversity, storage, solar cells, water power, windmills etc

A hundred years ago the whole country was disfigured by thousands of windmills, +1!
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pwa
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Re: Nuclear power safe?

Postby pwa » 24 Nov 2017, 9:05am

Stradageek wrote:I'd recommend 'FUKUSHIMA The Death Knell for Nuclear Energy' by Sean McDonagh. I'm a component reliability engineer and a lot of what he discusses resonates with me, I've serious doubts about building anything that runs that hot and fast that can be reliable and safe for decades.

I'm firmly in favour of going all out for renewables - especially as this would require us to cut national energy consumption to 10% of what we use now, bye bye cars, hello local communities and bicycles!

I'm up for it :D


The fascinating thing about Fukushima is how an advanced industrial nation like Japan could make such basic mistakes. In the land that gave us the word Tsunami they put the nuclear facility by the sea with inadequate protection. They built it on a fault line. And they went for a design that runs out of control if the electricity supply fails.